Western Animation: Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist
(left to right) His secretary Laura, Dr. Katz, his son Ben
Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist is an animated series that originally ran on Comedy Central from May 28, 1995 to December 24, 1999, starring Jonathan Katz, H. Jon Benjamin, and Laura Silverman. It was produced by Tom Snyder Productions, who would later become Soup2Nuts. It was the first ever original animated cartoon to be shown on Comedy Central, paving the way for South Park and the like.The show was computer animated in a crude, easily recognizable style called Squiggle Vision, in which all persons and animate objects are colored and have constantly squiggling outlines, while all other inanimate objects are static and usually gray in color. The show also utilized "retroscripting", where each episode has a basic outline but the actors improvise the dialogue. This technique would also be used on Home Movies.The show focuses on the title character, Dr. Jonathan Katz, who is voiced by, and visually based on, the comedian of the same name. Dr. Katz was a professional psychoanalyst who has famous comedians and actors as patients, usually two per episode. The comedians' therapy sessions generally consist of them doing their onstage material while Dr. Katz performs as a kind of milquetoast Straight Man. Therapy sessions featuring actors and actresses offer more interpersonal dialogue between Katz and his patient to better suit their predisposition.Interspersed with these scenes are scenes involving Dr. Katz's daily life, which include his aimless, childish grown son, Benjamin Katz, his disinterested and unhelpful secretary, Laura, and his two friends: Stanley, and the barmaid, Julie.South Park did a Crossover where Mr. Garrison sought therapy from Dr. Katz. Also referenced in Arthur, of all shows.
Provides examples of:
Adaptation Expansion: Dr. Katz actually started as a series of bumpers on Comedy Central before becoming a full-fledged series in 1995.
All Love Is Unrequited: Laura and Ben are the most obvious, but more subtly, Dr. Katz seems into Laura, and there's the Stanley/Julie/Katz triangle, meaning almost the entire male cast is into a girl, without reciprocation from any of the girls. (There's a few episodes that shows that Julie may have feelings for Dr. Katz. The episode where they practice Dr. Katz's part in a play includes a kiss that seems very well-requited. This is never mentioned again.)
Analogy Backfire: Dr. Katz asked guest Steven Wright what he thought certain phrases meant. One of them was "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." His response:
Steven Wright: That one always confused me; if you were throwing stones in any house, it would be damaging.
And Ninety Nine Cents: In "Pot-Bellied Pigs", Ben says that he has a job of buying pigs, breeding them, and then selling the babies for profit. Dr. Katz asks what each pig costs, and Ben says, "Twenty-nine... ninety-nine... ninety-five."
Dr. Katz: (irritated) Just round it up, Ben, just say the figure.
Art Evolution: Season 1 featured character animations not used in any other season, probably because they were so ugly and off-model. Season 5 got a new batch of reusable character animations; most notably for Laura.
Certain guests who were featured in the early episodes got new looks when they appeared in later episodes. Most notable is Dave Attell, who was originally drawn with bushy hair but was given a bald head when he appeared in season 6.
Joy: I just wanna eat everything. Dr. Katz: And you're afraid if you eat too much, you'll get fat? Joy: (sarcastic) No, I'm afraid if I eat too much, I'll get thin. What's wrong with you?? Dr. Katz: Um... Joy: I mean really, what kind of doctor asks a stupid question like that?
In a session with Emo Phillips, Emo mentioned that he liked to go to the zoo. Dr. Katz asked him what he liked most about the zoo, and this followed:
Emo: (sighs) Oh boy, that's a tough one. I would have to say..... the animals.
Bad Impressionists: In "Movies", Ben asks Dr. Katz to do an impression of Marlon Brando from The Godfather, and Katz starts his line with a wheezy grunt. Ben makes fun of how bad his impression is.
Gilbert Gottfried did a mash-up for Laura: Jackie Gleason in Casablanca, which sounds nothing like Gleason and was basically just Gilbert shouting like he usually does (of course, that's part of the joke):
Gilbert: (as Gleason) You're gettin' on that plane with Vic Laszlo! Oh you're gettin' on that plane all right! 'Cause I know that you know that I know that you're gettin' on that plane!
Bank Robbery: Guest Don Gavin mentions that he tried to rob a bank once, but failed: He accidentally put the gun in the drive-up drawer with the threatening note.
Beat: Guest Garry Shandling accused Dr. Katz of using too many pauses in the sessions, which has dragged out his therapy for longer than it needs to.
Black Comedy: In one episode, Dr. Katz told a joke to Stan and Julie: A guy calls his wife from the office, and the maid answers the phone. He tells the maid to put his wife on the line, but the maid says that she's busy having sex with another man. The man tells the maid to go upstairs and kill both of them. She does so, and comes back to the phone, asking what she should do with the bodies. The man says to throw the bodies in the pool. The maid asks, "What pool?" The man then asks if he has the right number.
Blatant Lies: In "Chopper", when Ben, runner-up in a radio contest, is dismayed that nothing happened to the contest winner (and thus, was unable to take his place in riding the helicopter):
Dr. Katz: Remember when I said this contest had no losers? Ben: Yeah? (Dr. Katz shrugs and smiles; Ben laughs)
Call Back: While on the plane in "Miles Away", Ben gets ready to watch a movie called "Lovestrings", which was first mentioned in "Movies" (and which Ben doesn't want to see because it's a "chick flick").
Dom Irrera's love song to Dr. Katz (first heard in "Bees and S.I.D.S.") is later sung by Dom on many occasions.
In both "Glasses" and "New Phone System", Dr. Katz quips: "Am I the only one with a rotary cellular phone?" This joke is revisited in the last episode of the series, "Lerapy", when Conan O'Brien steals his joke and uses it on his show.
Captain Obvious: While discussing his trip to Florida, guest Kevin Nealon mentioned that he found a great beach, "it was, like, right on the water."
Catch Phrase: "Oops, you know what the music means: Our time is up."
Chain Letter: An entire episode revolves around Ben wondering what to do with a chain letter, with Dr. Katz and Laura both immediately telling him to throw it away.
City with No Name: The name of the city Dr. Katz takes place in is never made clear; at times it evokes images of New York City; other times, it seems more like Boston.
In one episode Conan O'Brien is a client who uses one of Dr. Katz' jokes on Late Night, based in New York.
Class Reunion: Ben gets an invitation to a high school reunion in the season 3 finale. He's reluctant at first but ultimately decides to go.
Cliché Storm: Invoked. Guest Don Gavin said he was seeing another therapist; Dr. Katz asked if he was a second opinion, but Gavin said the other theraist was the first opinion, and Katz was the second.
Dr. Katz: That's adding insult to injury. That's like pouring salt on an open wound.
Gavin: Any other cliches you'd like to throw my way?
Dr. Katz: That's like... I was gonna say that was like a stitch in time, but that doesn't apply.
Coat Full of Contraband: Robert Klein mentions that he was once approached by a man who used the "Wanna buy a watch?" line. Robert refused, and it's revealed he was standing at a urinal when he said it.
Confusing Multiple Negatives: Guest Barry Sobel said that his dad once told him, "Don't do anything I wouldn't do"... but his dad wouldn't do anything. Barry and Dr. Katz got into a discussion on whether that limited Barry or freed him.
Dom: People say I'm paranoid, right? Well maybe you'd be a little paranoid if there was a world organization bent on your destruction.
Dr. Katz: Is this... is this your UNICEF theory again??
Marc Maron had traits of this as well, such as when he asked why they needed his name at Radio Shack: "I'm buying batteries, do you understand what I'm saying? I'm buying batteries."
Dave Attell asked: "Doctor, prostate cancer: Did the CIA invent that?"
Corpsing: In-universe, this is why Dr. Katz is unable to get through an audition in "Community Theater"; the play director uses a strange accent that gives Dr. Katz the giggles.
Could This Happen to You?: Tom Kenny did a routine about sensationalism in the media, where even if a natural disaster is averted, the news reporters will milk the story by doing the "what if" news:
Tom: (as an anchorman) Today's earthquake out in the desert was a 1.9, just a small temblor, according to seismologists at UCLA. But what if it had been a 9.1? Would you survive? Would your family survive? Our 25-part series "surviving the big one" starts this week on channel 7 news. We urge you and your family to watch! What if the big quake hit? What if you were working in a store that sold nothing but sharp jagged knives made of glass? Would you survive? Would your family survive??
Curse Cut Short: In "Snow Day", Todd the video store clerk is about to say "pigeon shit" but Ben interrupts him before he can say the offending word.
Guest Jake Johannsen was about to swear, but Dr. Katz cut him off. Jake observed: "My other therapist let me swear." Dr. Katz replied, "That's up to him."
Deadpan Snarker: All of the characters talk this way at least sometimes, especially Laura to Ben, and also Dr. Katz and Ben to each other.
Don't Explain the Joke: In one episode, Dr. Katz tells a joke to Julie, who doesn't get it. He proceeds to explain the punchline. Stan remarks, "You gotta stop explaining the joke. If you do that, life's not worth living."
Early Installment Weirdness: In the first season especially, the interplay between Dr. Katz and Ben was a little more serious and subdued, with the "get a job" a common topic between the two. Over time, the dynamic lightened up.
In the first few episodes, there isn't a framed painting hanging over Dr. Katz's office chair.
Epic Fail: Ben gets these pretty frequently. In one instance, he assumed the world only had about 2-3 million people in it ("Actually, Ben, it's in the billions."), and in another instance, he said that pigeons were mammals.
In "Theory of Intelligence", Ben can't solve a math problem that a kindergartener could do:
Dr. Katz: I have three apples. You have two apples. I give you one of my apples. Do we now have the same number of apples? (Ben is silent) See, this is why I wish I had sent you to a private school.
Dr. Katz is no stranger to this, either; in "Wisdom Teeth", he accidentally gave Ben antihistamines instead of painkillers.
Erotic Dream: Joy Behar admitted to having sex dreams about Dr. Katz, although she wasn't sure if it's accurate to call them "sex dreams". One dream involved Dr. Katz's head sticking out of a turtle's body; the Katz turtle was placed in a bowl of other turtles, and one of the other turtles bit Dr. Katz's head off.
Establishing Character Moment: The very first line uttered in the show is from Ben Katz: "Dad, the problem is, there's just no work for me right now in my chosen field." Ben's chosen field? Daredevil. That... doesn't leave him with a whole lot of options for employment.
Every Episode Ending: Dr. Katz telling his patient that the therapy session is over (see Catch Phrase), as prompted by the music cue. There are some exceptions:
"Ben Treats", which ends with Katz, Ben, and Laura in the fancy restaurant.
"Walk For Hunger", which ends with Dr. Katz and Laura carrying Ben the rest of the way in the hunger walk.
"Ben Centennial", which ends with Laura giving Ben a birthday present.
"Ticket", which ends with Dr. Katz and Ben getting pulled over on their way to fight a traffic ticket.
"Mourning Person", which ends with Dr. Katz's horrible eulogy.
"Community Theater", which ends with Dr. Katz's failed audition.
"Lil' Helper", which ends with Ben pitching a massage business to Dr. Katz.
Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Invoked. Gilbert Gottfried is annoyed that his dreams have no symbolism. He says other people have dreams where abstract things represent something profound. But Gilbert's dreams are basically: "Me, I have this dream where I'm walking down a street, and it's just a street."
Everything's Worse with Bees: Dr. Katz has a fear of bees; in one episode, he talks about therapy that is supposed to cure you of your phobia. For Katz, the final step is to put him in a room with thousands of bees. He couldn't get past the first step, which was putting him in a room with a dead horse.
Exhausted Eye Bags: Dr. Katz sports these in "Day Planner" when the malfunctioning air conditioner kept him up all night. He has lost the bags when he got to work, though.
Faking the Dead: Patient Tom Agna has a routine about faking a heart attack to get out of a boring dinner with a couple. He realizes the bit had gotten away from him when the couple phoned 911, which prompted Tom to get up and state he was just kidding. The couple was not amused.
Fauxdian Slip: In "Ball and Chain", Dr. Katz encourages Ben to get out there and meet women, saying he could envision him as the marrying type. Ben disagrees:
Ben: Think about it, the same person sitting across from you day in and day out? Every stupid thing he says, every boring story he tells...
Dr. Katz: Why do you keep saying "he", "he", "he", you're talking about me-
Flipping the Bird: Louis C.K. had a bit about how he repeatedly gave the finger to two snot-nosed brats in the back seat of a car in front of him. At one point, the father of the car caught Louis, but instead of getting angry, he gave him a thumbs up in the rear-view mirror. Louis concluded that parents must want to give their kids the finger all the time.
Freudian Slip: Used a couple times in the show. In one instance, Dr. Katz recommends his ex-wife Roz stay at a hotel instead of their apartment for the weekend because it contains a "hated [heated] pool". In another instance, Dr. Katz is practicing with Julie for a play and Julie accidentally calls Dr. Katz "Jonathan" instead of his character's name during a passionate sequence.
Frivolous Lawsuit: One time, Laura threatened to call her lawyer when Dr. Katz asked her to look something up in the Yellow Pages.
Ray: Do you ever watch two men go to the movies? They never want to sit right next to each other; there's always that "I'm a heterosexual!" empty seat right there! "There's my friend, my heterosexual friend! (mutters gibberish) Headlock!"
Despite guest Dom Irrera frequently performing Ho Yay actions towards Dr. Katz, he makes it clear that he's not in love with him, and in a later episode, Dom warned him: "You're not getting me in the sack." Additionally, he frequently asks: "That don't make me gay or nothing, right?"
Have We Met?: Guest Ted Alexandro is convinced that he knew Laura from college.
Heh Heh, You Said X: Guest Elayne Boosler had a bit about ice cream flavors for dogs. She remarked that if there were an ice cream that tasted like doodie, dogs would be robbing stores with guns. To which Dr. Katz remarked: "You said "doodie"."
Hidden Depths: Laura cared for an injured baby bird in "Ben Centennial".
High School Sweethearts: When Janeane Garofalo was a guest, she did a bit about how dumb she thinks people who got married in high school are.
Janeane: "All doors that were open will now be closed. I'm going to get married to the guy whose locker happened to be next to mine, in the ninth grade." I don't think you should be allowed to get married until you're thirty-five.
Hit Me, Dammit!: During the closing credits of "Cholesterol", we hear Dr. Katz proud of himself for getting through some push-ups. With a new-found sense of pride about himself, he asks Julie to hit him in the stomach. After trying to back out of it, Julie finally hits him, and Dr. Katz is heard keeling over.
In "Sissy Boy"; Ben asks both Dr. Katz and Laura to hit him to prove he's strong enough for the military.; Katz is hesitant but Laura has no reservations about doing it, and in fact asks "Again?" after she slugs him. Later, Todd the video store clerk wants to hit Ben as part of a deal to let Ben use the restroom, turning this into a Running Gag.
Homoerotic Dream: Louis C.K. tells Dr. Katz about one he had, where he didn't realize it was a gay dream until he started making out with a guy.
Dom Irrera has plenty of these - all starring Dr. Katz.
Ho Yay: Invoked. Dom Irrera constantly hits on Katz.
Hurricane of Puns: Demonstrated in "Mourning Person" between Dr. Katz and Ben, who keep making up puns using the word "pun".
Hypochondria: Ben gets this in "Bees and S.I.D.S." when he browses through Dr. Katz's medical journals. Of note, he's convinced he has Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, despite being 24 years old. Also of note, Dr. Katz mentioned it took a bunch of doctors and lab tests to convince Ben that he didn't have an ovarian cyst.
In "Drinky the Drunk Guy", Laura accuses Ben of letting his hypochondria extend to his father.
I Am Big Boned: Guest Dom Irrera thinks this is a lame excuse for being fat: "Yeah, that’s a big bone you’ve got in your butt there."
I Can't Dance: "Waltz" reveals that Dr. Katz can't dance (and he will have to dance at an upcoming wedding). He pays Laura $200 to teach him to dance, only he's not allowed to touch her.
I Have This Friend: In "Waltz", Ben tells Todd the video store clerk that today, unlike normally, he's here for somebody, if Todd knows what he means. Todd jumps to conclusions:
Todd: Uh... did you want to rent a porno movie?
Ben: No. I mean, yes.... listen, I gotta teach a guy how to waltz.
I'll Be in My Bunk: Kevin Meaney: "I do have sexual desires! I DO! I have to go to the bathroom now."
Ben: First of all, I do not constantly interrupt you. (Dr. Katz begins to speak, but Ben interrupts him) What I was about to say...
Incredibly Lame Pun: In "Mourning Person", Dr. Katz said that he's not thrilled about having to give the eulogy for Estelle, because he's not a "mourning person". Laura was disgusted, both that he would make a joke during such a time, and because the joke itself wasn't funny.
Ineffectual Death Threat: In "Babysitting Ben", Laura passes along the message that someone on the phone threatened to kill Dr. Katz, though the individual was just blowing off steam, not being literal. Laura didn't bother to pass that important bit of info along, leaving Katz a nervous wreck for the episode.
Instant Seduction: Guest Caroline Rhea did a routine about what would happen if women actually married construction workers who shouted come-ons to them:
Caroline: (as kid) How did you and daddy meet? (as herself) Well, dear, I was walking down the street one day, and your father screamed the most disgusting things to me! Oh... something about wanting to eat his lunch off my ass. I fell in love with him and the rest is history.
Insult Backfire: In "Movies", when Laura is talking to Ben on the phone, she says he's pathetic and just wants to pinch him. Ben takes this the other way and an exasperated Laura remarks, "Oh God." while Ben is eager for a pinch.
During a therapy session with Tom & Dick Smothers, Dick said that being with Tom has been one of the most amusing experiences of his life. Tom thanks him, but Dick assures him: "That's not a compliment."
It Is Pronounced Tropay: Ben argues with Dr. Katz over the pronunciation of "genuine": Is it "genuein" or "genuin"?
In "Fructose", Stanley calls it "high frucktose corn syrup." Julie corrects him.
I Want My Jetpack: Guest Paul F. Thompkins had a bit about how he feels gypped that many of the inventions predicted in the past never came to pass, like the rocket pack. He claims that if you owned a rocket pack, it would be the last thing you thought about when you went to bed, and the first thing you thought about when you woke up.
Paul: Ooh, rocket pack! Oh, another glorious rocket pack day! Oh, thank you God, I gotta strap it on! Rocket pack!
Kids Are Cruel: The cold open to "Monte Carlo" features Dr. Katz telling about a boy when he was growing up who used to shake him down for his lunch money. However, one day he was worried because he came to school without any money. Luckily for him, the bully didn't beat him up.
Lampshade Hanging: In "Real Estate", Barry Sobel cursed, and the curse words were bleeped. Dr. Katz warned: "I don't like to bleep my patients, Barry."
Last-Second Word Swap: Heard in the credits of "Koppleman and Katz" when Katz sings a song and keeps swapping the end of a verse ("Even though I know everything you touch turns to sh...") with a non-dirty word.
Letterbox: The first two seasons, as well as roughly half of season 3, were presented in letterboxed format. Starting with "Studio Guy", episodes were presented in the more typical (at the time) 1.33:1 ratio.
Like an Old Married Couple: Dr. Katz and Ben are basically one, and Katz even admits it in one episode, "Ball and Chain" when he says he's trying to salvage what's left of this "marriage".
In "It Takes Some Getting Used To":
Ben: I don't even know who you are anymore, dad. You're not the man I married.
Like Father, Like Son: In "Lil' Helper", Dr. Katz throws out his back. Later in the episode, Ben also throws out his back.
Limited Wardrobe: Dr. Katz always wears a yellow shirt and red tie; Ben always wears an open blue shirt and white T-shirt; Laura always wears a pink sweater. Frequent guest Dom Irrera is something of an exception; while he usually wears a yellow sweater, he's also worn numerous flamboyant outfits.
Averted with the first episode, "Pot-Bellied Pigs"; Ben wears a flannel shirt instead of his usual blue shirt.
Logo Joke: "Ticket" begins with the usual Dr. Katz head graphic, but after only a couple seconds, Katz's head is replaced by a police siren and accompanying sound effect. To those unprepared for this anomaly, it can be quite startling.
Long List: In "Movies", guest Sam Brown rattles off a list of chick flicks he'd be willing to sit through just to watch a woman make breakfast with a top off. Among those listed: Nell, Carrington, Sister Act 1 and 2, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
In "Day Planner", Katz lists off the areas that Ben could look for his missing day planner. After listing a bunch of areas, Ben remarks, "This is a beautiful apartment, dad."
Louie C.K. imagines what it must have been like to live in the old west, when you can just go into a saloon and rattle off what you need.
Louie: Give me a beer and a bottle of whiskey and a room for a week and a steak dinner and a shave and a haircut and a bath and some new clothes and a hat and some boots and some oats for my horse and a woman, and here, keep the change. Bing!
Long Song, Short Scene: Most of the scene transition music, which we never hear the full versions of because most scene transitions are only about five seconds long. Averted with the credits, where we get a few full transition melodies back to back.
Love Confession: Played for laughs, with frequent patient Dom Irrera frequently saying he loves Dr. Katz, even going so far as to ask him to marry him.
Guest Margaret Smith also admitted she had a crush on Dr. Katz. Katz quickly begins to worry that she will stalk him (despite assurances from Smith that she wouldn't):
Dr. Katz: Well that's good. I mean, not that it ever crossed my address- my mind- never addressed that issue in my mind. But, uh, I have to get going now because I don't go directly home, you know what I mean? I don't know why I'm telling you this...
Ted: So I'm single, and occasionally I get the question, "So what are you, gay?" Which bothers me, not because I am gay or have anything against being gay, but why does it immediately have to be that? You know, Batman, Superman, they were single. Did you ever think of that? I might be a superhero? Dr. Katz: No, you're absolutely.... what??
Mondegreen: Invoked by guest Laura Kightlinger. She once dated an Irish guy and because of his thick accent, she often thought he was saying something else:
Laura: (as the Irish boyfriend) Always complaining about how bad your life is; why don't ya change it? You know you're the author of your own fate. (as herself) And I was like, "God, he's right! I am the otter of my own fat!"
Mood Whiplash: In "Studio Guy", Dr. Katz plays a guitar while singing a melancholy song about feeling left out. After he concludes, Ben remarks, "That sucked."
Mooning: In "Anniversary", as Katz is leaving for work:
Dr. Katz: Kiss my ass!
Ben: Same to you; here it is. (pulls down pants)
Dr. Katz: Lookin' good!
Motionless Chin: Averted most of the time; surprising, considering that the rest of the animation is bare bones.
Motor Mouth: Guest Bobby Slayton falls into this. Dr. Katz even explores this, and Bobby realizes that he talks so much during the day that he is out of words by the evening.
Mushroom Samba: Mike Rowe had a bit about how all '70s anti-drug film strips were the same: A guy takes one drag of marijuana and won't be able to stop hallucinating.
Mike: The music's what's flippin' him out: "AAAH!!!" (hums psychedelic rock music)
Must Have Caffeine: One episode, "Metaphors", concerns Dr. Katz and Ben drinking more coffee than usual. This addiction catches up with Ben, though, who gets severe cramps towards the end of the episode.
My Eyes Are Up Here: Guest Joy Behar accuses Katz of staring at her large breasts; Katz denies noticing the size and the shape of them, but that only makes Joy more angry.
My God, What Have I Done?: Said by Dr. Katz in the episode "Bully" when he realizes how much he hurt Ben by throwing away Ben's childhood stuffed animal.
My Hair Came Out Green: "Henna" involves both Dr. Katz and Ben's hair turning bright red upon using the hair tonic.
New Job Episode: More accurately, FIRST job, as Ben is hired as a baker's assistant in an unaired season 6 episode. He's quickly fired before the week is up for coming to work four hours late, though.
No Indoor Voice: Kevin Meaney frequently shouts during his sessions (and even lampshades this: "Why am I always screaming?!").
Non-Answer: In "New Phone System", Andy Kindler asked Laura if she knew he was Jewish or Italian just by looking at him. Laura's response? An awkward, "Uh.... yeah."
No Sympathy: Guest Dave Attell had a bit about how he had no sympathy for dyslexic children:
Dave: Oh, baby mixes his letters up? Awww, poor baby! Tell that to the man in the iron lung.
Not a Date: Said by Laura in "Bully" when she and Ben go to a nightclub together to watch Dr. Katz's guitar performance.
Note to Self: During "Ben Treats", Dr. Katz has a phone therapy session with patient Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who was pregnant at the time the episode aired. She frequently put the session on hold to go to the bathroom. While Katz waited for her to return, he would talk into a tape recorder with inane comments like, "Note to self: How are you?" and "Put a live fish in the fishbowl."
Off Model: Some character animations in the first season (especially in "Pot-Bellied Pigs"), which were shelved soon after for this reason.
Once an Episode: It's a given that Laura sighs in exasperation at least once an episode. Usually when talking to Ben.
One-Shot Character: Cindy from Tele-Purchases in "Phone Luv"; the community theater director in "Community Theater"; the dentist in "Wisdom Teeth"; the teacher from "Past Lives"; Roger from "Expert Witness"; and if she counts, ex-wife Roz from "Thanksgiving", despite that there's been much talk about her in previous episodes.
Overly Long Gag: Ben trying to get Dr. Katz out of earshot from his private phone conversation in "Phone Luv". He sure kept Cindy waiting for a while.
Overly Long Name: Frequent patient Dom Irrera reveals his middle name: "Orangutan Anus Hair".
Parental Incest: Or, rather, grandparental incest: Emo Phillips mentioned how his grandmother gave him a big, sloppy kiss whenever she visited him as a child:
Emo: But when you try to go further with her... (exasperated sigh) you know.
Perpetual Frowner: Laura, although on occasion she has cracked a smile: In "Miles Away" when she is happy that Ben's on vacation (her smile quickly fades when Ben calls her while on vacation); in "Metaphors" when she snickers at Ben calling her a "big ol' ball of bitch", and "Monte Carlo" when she sarcastically smiles/giggles when Katz says that Ben will be working out of her office for his limo business. There may be a few other examples but they're few and far between.
Pilot: "The Biography of Mr. Katz", from 1992. It had even more primitive animation, if that can be believed. Also, Dr. Katz was incredibly Off Model.
Pokémon Speak: Guest Dave Chappelle had a bit about how boring it would be being Aquaman, since fish wouldn't have anything interesting to say:
Aquaman: Hello, fish!
Fish: Hi, Aquaman!
Aquaman: Have you seen anything unusual in the water?
Fish: ......Hi, Aquaman!
Potty Failure: In "Sissy Boy", Ben has to use the bathroom but Todd the video store clerk won't let customers use it. But he strikes a deal with Ben: If he can punch him, he'll look the other way. Ben asks to be hit in the ass, because it's the most padded part of his body. However, the instant Todd hits him, Ben remarks, "I peed."
Practical Joke: In the season 2 episode "Glasses", Dr. Katz gets a pair of glasses. Ben thinks it's amusing that he's "slowly going blind" and pulls pranks like hiding Dr. Katz's cell phone and removing all the chairs from the kitchen, hoping he'll accidentally sit on the floor.
Precision F-Strike: In "Phone Luv", Ben wants some privacy on the phone with Cindy. After much back-and-forth about privacy, Ben tells Dr. Katz to "use the fucking door!"
In "Old Man", Ben starts talking about hypothetical names for boats, and one of them is "This Piece of Sh*t's Gonna Sink".
Guest Jann Karam had a Double Standard bit about how women's basketball players are allowed to act tough but she isn't:
Jann: (as a women's basketball player) Yeah I slam dunked that [motherfucker]!
In "Ben-Centennial", Ben vows to never eat cereal again, and he's heard crunching over the phone. Dr. Katz asks what he's eating, and Ben says "Cereal." Katz asks, "What about your oath?"
Ben: (Fuck) the oath. Who cares?
Barry Sobel did a bit about the difference between East Coast and West Coast friends, specifically that on the East Coast, if you and your friends make plans to attend a movie, it's not a suggestion of what "could happen"; it's an actuality. He then imitates a hypothetical scenario on what would happen if you make plans but don't show up:
Barry: (on cell phone) Barry, what the (bleep) is going on? I'm standin' outside this theater for two (bleep)ing hours, and I'm (bleep)in' my head, and I'm thinkin', what, did you die? Do I go in? Do I go out?
Private Detective: In the season 4 finale "Undercover", Laura is taking multiple afternoons off without explaining where she's going, leading Ben to become a detective to find out. He's horrible at it, though.
Professional Butt-Kisser: Guest David Mamet sucks up to Laura, saying that he likes her strict demeanor and going so far as to say she should be the therapist and Katz should be the receptionist. Laura is at first flattered by this ("It's funny, I didn't used to like you, but I kinda do now."), but after another suck-up remark, Laura asks him: "Are you just blowing smoke up my ass?" Mamet replies: "What do you mean just?"
Emo: One afternoon, I'm walking home from school, and I'm watching a young man building a new house. And the guy hammering on the roof calls me a paranoid little weirdo. In morse code.
Psychic Powers: In the season 2 finale, Ben is convinced he has ESP after watching a show about it on TV, even though he obviously has no such ability. Typical impressionable Ben.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: In "Movies", Dr. Katz and Ben play a game where they pitch movie ideas to each other. Ben proceeds to insult Katz in his pitch, but it's more facetious than deadly serious:
Ben: It's the story about a father and son. And, the father-
Dr. Katz: So far, so good.
Ben: ...The father in this movie constantly squishes the son's dreams. And, the father is a bad person; he's bald ... and bad. It's called "Endless Yapper", and it stars you.
Dr. Katz: Nnnnnext!
Dom Irrera gave one to Dr. Katz during the credits of "Chopper":
Dom: Thanks a lot, doc, thanks for nothing! I never paid for "nothing" before; it's great! Let me dish out some more money for this nothing! I never go into a store and go, "Here's some money, I'll take "nothing"! And yet I come here, every day, and I get no help. Why do I come back? The odds are, someday you'll help me, just by random!
Redshirt Reporter: Guest Eddie Brill had a bit about how unfair it is that the meteorologists get to sit in their comfy studio while some unfortunate shmuck has to be in the field, covering really bad weather, yet the meteorologists get paid immensely more money.
Rule of Animation Conservation: Dr. Katz could easily be done in live action due to its limited movements, but the show was so inexpensive to produce in the first place anyway.
Rule of Three: In "Movies", Ben grills Laura about the date she was on:
Ben: Did you sleep with him? (Laura hangs up and sighs; the phone rings and she picks up)
Laura: Dr. Katz's office.
Ben: Laura, I am so sorry, I got cut off. Did you sleep with him? (Laura hangs up; the phone rings again and she picks up)
Laura: Dr. Katz's office.
Ben: Laura, I apologize for being so blunt, I was out of line, y'know? Did you have sex- (Laura hangs up a third time)
Running Gag: In the season 6 episode "Used Car", Ben keeps trying to convince Dr. Katz that they should take a trip to the Mall of America. This subject even comes up out of nowhere during a discussion about how Laura ditched Katz and Ben on a city street during her test drive of a used vehicle.
Dr. Katz: This is a depressing... event here. And I haven't even done my eulogy yet.
Shockingly Expensive Bill: The restaurant bill in "Ben Treats", which is more than $500. Dr. Katz jokes that Ben acts natural while he goes to warm up the car.
Guest Ray Romano is informed that, since he missed payments on the last two therapy sessions, he now owes $450 for his three sessions.
Shotgun Wedding: In an unaired season 6 episode, Laura abruptly announces that she's engaged to a musician. Ben tries to be mature about it and wishes her the best of luck, until he's motivated to stop the wedding, or he'll never get another chance to confess his love for her. Laura cancels the engagement before Ben realizes what happened, though; Hilarity Ensues.
Shout-Out: One of the movies Dr. Katz rents for Ben while he's recovering from getting his wisdom teeth removed is Marathon Man, ironically just about the worst movie you could show somebody in that condition.
Show Within a Show: There are a bunch of fictional movies at the theater Dr. Katz and Ben visit during "Movies", such as "Hams on the Run", "Lovestrings", and "Firepower".
Sick Episode: Sort of. The episode "Wisdom Teeth" featured Ben recovering from having his wisdom teeth removed, which, as anyone who's gone through this would know, is almost the same as being sick. Hilarity Ensues when Dr. Katz accidentally gives Ben a bunch of antihistmanies instead of painkillers.
Sound Effect Bleep: Often a patient's swearing will be completely replaced by dr. Katz saying "whoah!". Other times, they are simply bleeped
In "Phone Luv", Ben told Dr. Katz to "use the (fuck)ing door." Amusingly, if you listen closely, the word in question can still be heard underneath the bleep.
In "Thanksgiving", much of Ben's swearing, heard from the kitchen as he burns the turkey, is bleeped, although like with Phone Luv the swear words CAN be heard if listened to closely.
As mentioned in Lampshade Hanging above, a couple of the patients have been bleeped for language, though sometimes Dr. Katz himself merely talks over the offending words.
Jake Johannsen: Bullsh-
Dr. Katz: Ah-
Jake Johannsen: Bullsh-
Dr. Katz: Hey-
Jake Johannsen: Where's the money?!
Barry Sobel is repeatedly bleeped when he does a routine about honoring commitments to meet up at the movies.
Special Guest: Obviously, each episode featured a different guest star on Dr. Katz's couch, but a rare instance of a guest star playing a character was in "Bakery Ben", where comedian Steve Sweeney played Steve, the owner of the bakery where Ben gets his first job.
Split-Screen Phone Call: Rarely used; it was more common to just cut back and forth between the two on the phone. There were a couple exceptions, though, such as when Dr. Katz had a phone therapy session with Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Stand-Up Comedy: Nearly all the guest stars/patients on the show are real-life stand-up comedians, and do bits of their act in the context of therapy. There have been exceptions, however, such as actress Winona Ryder.
Status Quo Is God: Nothing really changes in the show; at the beginning and end of the series, Ben Katz is unemployed and living with Dr. Katz.
Stealing from the Till: A subplot point in "Sticky Notes", when Dr. Katz is suspicious that Laura is stealing office supplies.
Sting: Dr. Katz rarely used dramatic stings or any kind of music outside of scene transitions; however, one exception did occur in the episode with Jeffrey Ross. He did a routine about going on a blind date, and mentions that he admires her ugly fingernails. The camera then focuses on her fingernail, while a two-note dramatic pipe organ plays.
Strictly Formula: Nearly all episodes follow this formula when it comes to guest placement: Act 1: Guest #1. Act 2: Guest #2. Act 3: Guest #1 again. Act 4: Guest #2, followed immediately by guest #1, who closes the episode. There were a small handful of episodes which featured three guests, so the formula was varied a bit for those episodes.
Most episodes feature Dr. Katz visiting Stan and Julie at the bar at the end of act three, though a few episodes (such as "Community Theater") have him visiting them more than once per episode.
Nearly every episode opens with Dr. Katz and Ben at home. There are exceptions, though: "Radio Katz" opens with Dr. Katz and Ben in a restaurant; "Ticket" opens with Dr. Katz getting pulled over by a policeman; "Bakery Ben" opens with Ben visiting the bakery where he's hired by Steve.
Suddenly Sexuality: In "Movies", guest Sam Brown joked that he's one bad relationship away from turning gay. He could see himself marching in a gay pride parade chanting: "I'm here, I'm not queer, but at least someone's paying attention to me, so get over it!"
Suspiciously Specific Denial: In "Bystander Ben", guest Steven Wright decides to throw a penny at the back of Ben's head. When it hits, Steven remarks: "It fell off the ceiling or something; I wasn't paying attention. God, he's nuts."
The Tag: Utilized in a few episodes, when dialog is still heard over the closing credits. Some examples include "Pretzelkins" (Dr. Katz at the bingo parlor, where the bingo caller reads off the numbers), "Cholesterol" (Katz coaxes Julie to punch him in the stomach to prove his strength), "Everybody's Got a Tushy" (Dr. Katz and Laura have problems with the intercom), "Bystander Ben" (with Dr. Katz and Ben discussing things they're not proud of), "Office Management" (Dr. Katz and Ben sing Jingle Bells), "Koppleman and Katz" (Dr. Katz and Ben discussing songs where you almost say a dirty word but say something else instead), "Reunion" (Katz gives patient Dom Irrera a ride home), and "Ben Treats" (Ben realizes the check is a little over $500 and asks Katz and Laura to pay for the rest).
Tell Him I'm Not Speaking to Him: In "Big TV", Dr. Katz refuses to talk to Ben when Ben bought a big screen TV without his permission. The trope is initially played straight (with Laura being the party relaying the messages), but is subverted in short order when both parties forget who they're not talking to.
Ben: Dad, look me right in the eye and tell Laura to shut up.
In another episode, guest Dave Attell didn't address him by his title:
Dr. Katz: Dr. Katz.
This Is Gonna Suck: Guest Tom Agna had a routine about wondering if you can take stuff with you when you die. Upon arriving at the pearly gates, St. Peter says, "Hey, where's your stuff?" Tom replies, "Oh man, this is gonna suck."
Emo: The other day, I'm walking here and I say to myself, "My gosh, that's Jimmy Petersen. I haven't seen him since I was nine!" And I walked up to him and I slapped him on the back and I said, "How's it going, you old rascal?" And he starts crying, 'yknow? And I'm thinking, "Wait a second, if that's Jimmy Petersen, he would have grown up too."
Title Drop: In "Everybody's Got a Tushy", the head-scratching title is finally explained when Dr. Katz remarks to Stan that when Ben was a kid, he gave him a book called "Everybody's Got a Tushy".
"It Takes Some Getting Used To" is the nickname Dr. Katz gives his strong-smelling cologne.
"Drinky the Drunk Guy" is the name Dr. Katz gives to a film that's going to be airing on TV.
"You're Belinda" is a confusion over the name of Yorba Linda, California.
Title-Only Opening: The show has no opening sequence aside from the title and Katz head graphic. Further, the show doesn't feature opening credits superimposed over the action like is typical on TV shows. All credits are reserved for the end of the episode.
Toilet Humour: Dr. Katz on coffee: "I wonder what people did before coffee, if they were just constipated?"
Dom Irrera had a bit where he discussed how his cat peed in his gym bag:
Dom: We've all done that; sometimes you don't feel like walkin' upstairs, right? But the protocol is, if you're gonna do it in somebody else's bag, you look away. You use a little discretion. Don't just say: "Eh, here's your bag right here, I'll give ya a bag."
Dom also asked Dr. Katz if it's normal for your urine to have chunks in it.
Tongue Tied: In "Pot-Bellied Pigs", Dr. Katz says: "One smart fellow, he felt smart." Stanley tries to say the same thing but instead says, "One fart smellow..."
Tonight Someone Kisses: In a promo for the episode "Community Theater", Julie says, "Do you know how long I've waited for this moment?", followed by Julie kissing Dr. Katz while Barry White-esque music plays. In the actual episode, the two were merely rehearsing for a play Dr. Katz was going to audition for.
Too Much Information: In one episode, Ben tells Laura that one weird thing about him is that he has leg hair but doesn't have chest hair. Laura remarks, "That is something... I did not want to know."
In "Lerapy", Conan O'Brien used one of Dr. Katz's jokes on his show: When he wanted to talk to Katz about a subject, Katz replied, kidding: "Let's not open up that can of worms."
Tough Room: Dr. Katz never laughs at his patient's jokes. This is strange because he laughs very easily otherwise.
The one exception is when Dom Irrera made him laugh by tickling him.
The Trouble With Tickets: Dr. Katz, with Ben's help, decides to fight his traffic violation, where he ran a stop sign. Ben took hundreds of photographs of the stop sign in question, claiming they were obscured by tree leaves/branches. However, on the way to the court, they're pulled over again, this time for speeding. And Ben was the one driving, and didn't have his license on him.
Truth in Television: Laura and Ben's voice actors were actually dating at the start of the show, and broke up around halfway through the run of the show.
Ultimate Job Security: Both Laura and Dr. Katz qualify—Laura is completely unhelpful as a secretary and only avoids getting fired because Dr. Katz is a milquetoast pushover. Meanwhile, Dr. Katz is a terrible shrink and is very often called out on it by his clients. Somehow this doesn't stop them from coming back though.
The Unintelligible: Guest John Pinette had a bit about how a friend of his becomes unintelligible when he has a few beers. Everyone just agrees with him.
Unintentional Period Piece: Aside from Todd the video store clerk, computers are scarce: In an early episode, Dr. Katz announces to Laura that the office will be upgrading to a computerized filing system, but nothing ever seems to come of it. In another episode, Dr. Katz also mentions that he has a computer while talking to guest Marc Maron, but it's never shown on-screen.
Verbal Backspace: In "New Phone System", when Dr. Katz and Ben are waiting a long time getting the third person in their conference call to join:
Ben: I'm glad you included me in your first phone game. I feel honored. Dr. Katz: It's not a game. It's... well, it's a game.
The Voiceless: This was actually the case for a lot of one-shot characters in the show, presumably because they had such a small stable of regular voice actors. It wasn't until roughly the fourth season that one-shot characters began to actually talk. Whoever did their voices were still uncredited, though. Examples of voiceless characters:
The guy with the sock puppet who is occasionally seen in Dr. Katz's office.
The clerk at the hardware store in "The Particle Board". Though somewhat justified in that the scene begins with Ben on the store phone with Dr. Katz.
The priest at the funeral in "Mourning Person".
The cop who pulls Dr. Katz over in the season 5 episode "The Ticket": He just gives him a cold stare and lets Katz stammer.
Laura's friends in "Walk For Hunger".
Vomit Indiscretion Shot: In "Pullman Square", guest Ed Crasnick had a routine about how a relative would take photos of people throwing up after going on The Rotor, and actually had a "throw-up gallery". Photos of people vomiting are displayed.
Guest Kathy Griffin also had a bit about vomit; she once was a waitress whose customer ate a pie and then vomited it up (which is shown). What struck Kathy as odd was that the woman didn't seem all that physically distraught afterwards; she just calmly paid her check and left.
Wingding Eyes: In "Pot-Bellied Pigs", upon meeting Laura, Ben briefly displays heart eyes.
Worst Whatever Ever: Ben, to Dr. Katz at the end of "Mourning Person" after Katz stumbles through his eulogy.
Ben: I thought for sure you were gonna turn it around, but you didn't! I mean, I've never heard a eulogy before, but I think it's safe to say that that was the worst eulogy ever given. At the after party, we're splitting up, that's all there is to it.
Writers Cannot Do Math: Or rather, the actors cannot do math (since the show is mostly ad-libbed). In "Ben Treats", Ben brags about the fact that he won $500 and prompts Laura to guess how many pennies he won. After much goading to say "a penny", Laura says "a penny", but Ben replies: "No, five million pennies!" Laura corrects him: "It's 500,000." She's incorrect, though; there are 50,000 pennies in $500.
Wrong Side of the Tracks: Implied in "Used Car" when Laura abandoned Dr. Katz and Ben in an unknown part of town; it wasn't exactly a nice neighborhood. But Dr. Katz wasn't too worried because he spotted a Taco Bell in the distance.
Yank the Dog's Chain: In "Cholesterol", Dr. Katz admits he's embarrassed about showering in front of other guys at the gym. When Stanley asks why:
Dr. Katz: Well, what if they make fun of my body?
Stanley: Why would they do that? There's nothing wrong with your body.
Dr. Katz: Thank you.
Stanley: Not a lot...
In one episode, guest Lew Schneider asked Laura if she could be nicer.
Lew: I'm sorry, because it's just a little-
Laura: Oh, to you??
Yiddish as a Second Language: During one of guest Jeffrey Ross's stories, he mentions how his mother's Jewish friends are always trying to set him up on dates with people they know. One remarks: "You should meet my Marie. Not much to look at, but she'll bop on your shmeckel, boy."
You Are Grounded: Dr. Katz grounds Ben after Ben lied to the papers and school about being an eye witness to a crime in "Bystander Ben".
Dr. Katz: Damn it, Ben, I hate to say this, I think you have to go to your room. (Beat) This is a little awkward at your age, but I don't know what else to do.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: During guest Patton Oswalt's long tirade about how he wants Dr. Katz to be his enemy, he recommends that Katz tell him: "I'm tired of you; you no longer amuse me!"